World Atlas by National Geographic

Educational Value:
Fun Factor:
Skills:Community & Cultures, Geography, World History

What we like best:

A virtual, spinning globe lets little fingers explore the earth with ease, and the map quality is top-notch; what you’d expect from the National Geographic Society.

What you should know:

Map loading times are uneven, and most maps and zoom features require a fast Internet connection.
Full Review:

The world is at your fingertips in this first-class map app from the venerable National Geographic Society. This visually stunning and information-dense geography tool features a virtual globe with a choice of 3 different views—executive, classic or satellite.

Little explorers will be awe-struck by the impressive resolution and level of detail, even on a small phone screen. Navigation is a breeze; simply pinch and swipe to zoom and find places of interest, or tap the home button to return the full globe screen. Zooming in extremely close to a location will flip you from the Nat Geo maps to the Microsoft Bing map database. The transition is smooth with a speedy Internet connection—but slow servers may mean some waiting. Additional features include a database of major cities and flags of the world. Searching is available only from the index page and not the graphical interface, which is a minor drawback.

This app lacks many of the bells and whistles of Google Earth—but the lack of distractions is great for classroom and educational use. If you’re looking for a geography tool that forgoes traffic updates and restaurants recommendations in favor of stellar world photography and fun facts about global cultures, World Atlas is your best bet.

Teacher Features:
The map database is searchable, so teachers can use this tool in a targeted way for specific lesson plans and subject areas.
Reviewed 2012-10-14 on iPhone iOS5 by Roberta Munoz

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Publisher:National Geographic Society